Collection Highlight: Song (2012)

Collection Highlight: Song (HD Video)

We displayed the recently acquired Song exclusively at The Happy Dog, a Westside bar and eatery during May and June.

Song is a limited edition HD video work that documents a site-specific, long-duration live performance in the Hall of Sculpture at the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA. The performance, which took place over a period of three weeks from March 10-March 27, 2011, was commissioned by the Carnegie from the Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson (b. 1976), the youngest artist to represent Iceland at the 2009 Venice Biennale. The video features Kjartanasson’s three nices: Reangneidur Harpa Leifsdóttir, Rakel Miöll Leifsdóttir, and Íris Maria Leifsdóttir, who sing a short song written by Kjartansson from a slightly misremembered phrase from an Allen Ginsburg poem, “The weight of the world/ is love.”

Draped over pillows on a plinth covered with royal blue fabric, the three women pluck a guitar and read poetry while they repeat Kjartansson’s brief composition. Welcoming and alluring, the performance was shot in a continuous loop filmed by a single camera that rotates around the women for a six hour period. This one-shot technique, which connects the camera to the performance and the space in which it takes place, was invented by the artist’s cameraman. The endless repetition of the single, melancholic lyric verges on the hypnotic, its sound filling the graceful, resonant space of the Hall of Sculpture.

A musician as well as an artist, Kjartanasson’s work expresses a longstanding interest in theater and performance, present since he first formed a band as teenager.

“The acquisition of this work expands the museum’s currently small corpus of video work, which includes recent acquisitions of pieces by Omer Fast (The Casting), and Tsumi Tse (Mistelpartition),” C. Griffith Mann, PhD, Deputy Director and Chief Curator said.
“Kjartanasson’s interest in musical performances and videos, which often combine sublime environments, repetition, and deadpan humor, connects this acquisition with the museum’s contemporary collection and with its programs in performing arts, music, and film.”



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